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Object lessons: how a new exhibition challenges old clichés about Islamic art—and people

A new gallery at the heart of the British Museum gloriously explodes our preconceptions

By Sameer Rahim   December 2018

Illuminating: light falls through the gallery’s specially- designed windows; right, a 14th-century Mamluk lamp. Photo: British Museum

In 1994, off the coast of Salcombe Bay in Devon, divers recovered a remarkable hoard of Moroccan gold. Among the treasures they dredged up were a finger-shaped ingot, several twisted earrings and more than a hundred coins struck for Ahmad al-Mansur, a ruler in 16th-century Marrakesh. Al-Mansur, nicknamed “the golden one” after he conquered wealthy Timbuktu in 1591, corresponded with Elizabeth I over the establishment of the Barbary trading company and sent ambassadors to her court. (Shakespeare…

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